Friday, March 24, 2017

Fearfully and Wonderfully Enough: Heroines Volume V (Corinne Burns)

I am a woman. I am a woman created in the image of God. I am a woman with a long list of failures, strengths and weaknesses. I am a woman in need of a Savior. I am a woman who, at times, feels worthless, but I am a woman that Jesus looked at and said, “WORTH it.” I am a woman created with a God-given purpose.

I am a woman, and I am misunderstood.  

Everywhere we look, women are rioting, angry at the world. Social media is in an uproar over the demands, the calling out and the protesting of women all around the world.  

When did women lose sight of who we are created to be?  

When did women feel the need to condemn other women for embracing their God-given qualities, powerful feminine traits and desires?  

When did women quit looking to Jesus as the author of our lives?  

When did we quit looking to Him for our God-given purpose?  

When did we decide that the femininity God has gifted us with isn’t attractive, anymore?  

When did we decide it was okay to trash the guide God has given us on “being a woman” and create our own?  

When did we decide God didn’t know what He was doing, we don’t need inner beauty or the qualities of Jesus?   

Who came to the realization life has to be fair? As far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t “fair” Jesus paid for the sins of this world when He was blameless, yet all we are concerned about are women’s rights.

What about mercy?  

What about grace?  

What about Salvation?

What about forgiveness?  

What about humility?  

What about the fact none of us deserve what we have been given, yet many of us neglect to show even the slightest bit of gratitude?

I am a woman, I am misunderstood, and I am broken for women around the world who have traded their God-given purpose for a pair of gloves and time in the ring that result in a fight that only ends in defeat.  

You want to live with purpose? You want to see change? You want to be respected and revered?  Well, the good news is God wants those very same things for us, and He’s given us exactly what we need to embrace who we are as daughters of the King.

He’s prepared us with the perfect set of armor and weapons to fight the battles He’s created us to fight. The best news . . . He’s prepared us to win them.  

Proverbs 31:10-31 gives us such a beautiful, powerful picture of who God calls us to be and what He calls us to do as women. The wonderful thing is there is NO ONE else created to be who we are or do what we do. That means we are special—it also means we have an important, God-given purpose. So, you may be asking, “What do these verses mean? What is God really telling us here?”

She works with willing hands.” (She is a HARD worker.)  “She brings her food from afar.” (She works hard for food to feed her family.)  “She rises early in the morning, and provides food for her home.” (She gets up early and prepares her home for the day.)  “She considers a field and buys it.” (She is very wise when it comes to business, she is patient, not impulsive.)  “With the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard.” (She uses what she has, and she plants to provide with her own hands.)  “She dresses herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.” (She focuses on her heart with Jesus and takes care of her body!)  - Did anyone else feel just a little guilty about the whole working out thing?  I know I did.  Oops!  

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.” (She knows who she is, she knows what she has to offer is worth it!)  “Her lamp does not go out at night.”  (She never stops. She’s always one step ahead.)  “She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.” (She is genuine. She has a heart for others as Jesus does. She reaches out to those in need.)  “She is not afraid.” (SHE. IS. FEARLESS. She knows who holds her future, her faith is indestructible!)  

Strength and dignity are her clothing.” (She knows where true beauty lies. She is strong, she is CONFIDENT.)  “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (She is oh so wise. She spreads kindness wherever she goes.)  “She does not eat the bread of idleness.” (She uses her time wisely; she is far from lazy, and she knows time is of the essence.)  “Her children rise up and call her blessed.” (She is respected and revered. Her children call her blessed.)  “Her husband praises her.” (Her husband PRAISES her. Enough said.)

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

A woman after God’s heart has the favor of our Savior! She recognizes that every moment, every person she comes into contact with is ordained by God. A woman of God knows her purpose is greater than proving she is something or someone to the world because she knows she is already someone to God.

A woman of God is fearless. She is confident, blessed, praised, strong and dignified. She is humble. She is wise. She is kind. She is diligent. She is virtuous. She is independent. She is active and full of life. She is constant, committed, efficient, productive and resourceful. She is purposeful. She loves deeply. She is a giver. She is beautiful inside and out. She is selfless. She is worth it. She is respected, and she is revered.  

Instagram: @corinnelburns

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Trailblazer: Heroines Volume IV (Makenna Runion)

You know that feeling when you finally make it to the gym after 23 years of off-days?
You’re lying on a yoga mat two billion other people sweated on earlier that day and you think to yourself, “Could this possibly be worth it?” You take a deep breath and let BeyoncĂ© give you the energy to lift your head off the matt and pull your knees toward your chest. Then, you feel it. The burn. You stretch your body out and do it again. And there it is, more burn. Over and over again, you repeat this motion. Over and over again, you feel the burn until eventually you either reach your goal or collapse in a sweaty mess because you haven’t done the work to feel the burn leading into today’s workout.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
The burn hurts—we often leave trembling and weak. It doesn't go away immediately. Our muscles ache for days, but if we practice the motions enough, if we are consistent with investing our time, energy and heart, then we become stronger and healthier.
We can fight our enemies with more force and energy (which, in this case, means avoiding the leftover box of Krispy Kreme’s on the corner of my kitchen table).
I want to chat with you today about a different kind of burn, one that leaves us marked deep within our souls and changes who we are forever. I want to talk to you today about our wounds, ones that were given to us from friends who didn’t care, boys who wanted more than they had rights to and parents who were wounded themselves.
Ones that are a result from living in a constant state of debilitating fear and anxiousness. 
Deep, aching pain from love lost and people taken from us without our consent.
Life is not always easy. Sometimes it is so hard it takes every ounce of strength just to leave our beds in the morning, let alone be the strong, vibrant young women everyone expects us to be.
Our fight doesn't end once we get out into the world after having the mess beaten out of us. It carries on when we have to cover our brokenness with smiles, laughs, fake energy and dry shampoo. We feel the need to act like we’re not dealing with very real, excruciating and sometimes ugly problems.
This process leads to isolation and eventually defeat.
Opening up the ugly and broken parts of our hearts hurts. It burns deeply. Sharing the pain of our past and present with even our closest friends takes more courage than we often feel we could ever have. We view the other girls in our lives through a distorted lens, thinking they have it all together. Their jobs are exciting and allow them to work in trendy coffee shops around town. Their boyfriends are doting hotties and have money to buy them fancy Kate Spade bags. They work out more than five times a day and don’t have an ounce of fat on their perfectly styled bodies. They are too perfect to experience shame, fear or depression. They seem to have it all together, which leads us to feel like our pain and wounds make us "different" from everyone else and therefore, undesirable.
This is so wrong.
Everyone has experienced some degree of brokenness.
You are not alone in your pain, confusion and fear. Your wounds do not discount you from what God has destined for your life. Do not fall victim to the lies.
I challenge you, God-authored heroine, to be the one to start the wave of authenticity in your tribe. Take a deep breath and exhale your truth. It is okay to be broken. It will burn, but it is a burn that will make you and others in your life stronger.
Let’s be trailblazers, people who mark and prepare a trail through a forest or field for others to follow.
Let us carry our torches, tell our stories, embrace the burn and create a way for others to experience true freedom in Jesus. 
If we can muster the strength to be vulnerable and authentic, we can be the heroines for our sisterhood. Our pain reaches their pain and tells them it is okay to hurt, there is a Savior who sees their pain and loves them more than they could ever imagine.
Scripture tells us in Isaiah 61 that God replaces our ashes with beauty. He takes our mourning and despair, gives us instead joy and praise (Isaiah 61:3). When we allow our brokenness to be revealed, He redeems it all and gives in return healing, fullness and freedom.
There is great power and strength that comes with the burn of living an authentic and vulnerable life.
Let us pick up our torches and blaze the way for our sisters.
The burn is worth it.
“ . . . To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
-        Isaiah 61:3

      I am a worshiper of Jesus Christ, an adoring wife of Jared Runion, an older sister to Jordan McCroskey, a daughter of two high school sweethearts and a part of a world-changing movement of God in Nashville, TN. I am a hopeless romantic, outdoor fanatic, tone-deaf music lover and major Disnerd. I spend most weekends on an airplane traveling to photograph incredible couples or adventuring with Jared. I have a passion for Gods daughters, a love for their hearts and a vision for their lives. I can shop with the best of them and can a pitch a tent faster than my dad… usually.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Grace Given: Heroines Volume III (Andi Hale and Erica Lovingood)

A native Texan, Andi Hale moved to Nashville a year and a half ago. She now works as administrator for Fellowship School of Dance and is heavily involved with the My Local college ministry, started by Erica and Trevor Lovingood.
Erica Lovingood resides in Nashville with her husband, Trevor, and oversees college and young adult ministry, My Local. She is a stay-at-home mom with her daughter, Londyn.

“. . . They went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus.”
Luke 5:19, MSG
We have all experienced paralyzing moments—when we learn of a friend who has overdosed, when we witness a marriage of several decades disintegrate, when we encounter the kind of racism we believed only existed in history books. A God-authored friend walks with us through those seasons and places us at the feet of Jesus when we are paralyzed. When we don’t have the strength, they will fight our battles with us, take up our cause and shield us with prayer. 
It is our calling as God-authored heroines to bring one another to the feet of Jesus.
“Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way.”
Luke 5:25, MSG
At His feet, we experience victorious moments—when we learn of the new life inside us, when we witness friends come to eternal salvation, when we encounter God-dreams we didn’t know we could possess. In unity, we celebrate these miracles. We are empowered to move through both the beautiful and the crushing parts of life with grace. Not a delicate, soft grace. Fierce, enduring grace that pushes us through the seasons of unimaginable heartbreak and pain. Grace that moves through us and forges a path before us.
“My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives…”
James 5:19-20, MSG
God-authored friendships are grace-giving. We are not called to be hoarders of this grace but to actively seek ways to give it away. As sisters unified in Christ, we look for the best in each other but are also willing to point out areas that threaten to compromise God-dreams. An authentic friend is one who will have tough conversations with the hope we can begin to run in freedom, not fear. These vulnerable discussions start with us. When we open the door to our own fears and struggles, we allow them to go there as well.
“Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in.”
Ecclesiastes 11:9, NLT
As God-authored friends, we get to take it all in. Friendships are meant to be enjoyed, celebrated. Relationships are a gift, given to us so we can be freed up to enjoy the journey together.
Our journey began in an old warehouse in Franklin, Tennessee. We were both new to Nashville and in desperate need of community. In that moment, the Lord answered our prayers and brought us together. Since that day, we have been through many trials. Each battle was hard fought and won through prayer. We have spent a good portion of our friendship on our knees, calling out to the Lord on our sister’s behalf. In His perfectly authored story, we have also experienced some of the most rewarding moments of joy together. Every Sunday at lunch, we celebrate these victories the only way we know how: tacos and queso.
Our friendship has been built on a firm foundation of prayer and queso.
Praise God.
Our prayer for you is that you would find grace-giving relationships that bring you to the feet of Jesus . . .
Friendships that carry you through paralyzing seasons and to the victories on the other side.